5 Ways To Get Textbooks When You're Almost Broke

Finance & Money Articles

Few things fill a college student with dread like purchasing textbooks. After paying tuition, fees, room and board (or taking out a loan to do so), you still may be in for hundreds of dollars more in expenses for books. And if you're nearly broke, that may be out of the question. Here are five ways to get the books you need when your pockets are nearly empty. Use the money you save for your instant noodle stash instead.

Host a Book Swap

You're not the only broke college student on campus, so do your fellow co-eds a favor by hosting a book swap. It's a great way to get the books you need while helping others, too. Each person brings textbooks that they're willing to swap for another book that he or she needs. You can let people mingle to figure out who to swap with, but if you have a large turnout, that could quickly turn chaotic.

Your best course of action with a large crowd is to record what each person brings in as well as the titles each person needs. Have an emcee (a.k.a. your roommate, most likely) call each person up to the front to announce what the student has to offer as well as which titles he or she is looking for. The people in the crowd who are willing to swap titles with the person up front can then come forward to make the exchanges.

Use a Payday Loan

If you know that you'll have work via the Federal Work Study (FWS) program or another job you've found on or off-campus, consider a payday loan from 1st Choice Money Center. Although the amount of the loan depends on your income, you should be able to get a couple hundred dollars to help with your book costs. The lender will save a signed check for the amount of the loan plus fees or have it drafted from your account on payday.

Rent Your Textbooks

Another way to save is by renting your textbooks instead of buying them. Some college bookstores now offer rentals, and a number of online textbook retailers have a wide selection available for rent. You'll still pay a significant sum, but you'll save one-third of the cost or more by renting the book. Of course, you'll have to take excellent care of the book while it's in your possession. That means no highlighting or underlining in it while you're studying, and definitely no doodling in it while you're bored.

Look for Digital Versions

For most textbooks, digital versions aren't that much cheaper, and they're somewhat inconvenient for subjects such as math, economics and other subjects that involve lots of diagrams and illustrations for problems. However, if your instructor assigns several books—in a classic literature course, for example—you can get the digital versions cheap or even free from your favorite e-book retailer or app store. You won't likely find a biology book among these resources, but you should always check e-books first for literature and language materials.

Use the Library

Finally—and you should only use this as a last resort—use the copy in the library for studying. Why should this be a last resort? There are likely other cash-strapped students with the same idea. That will make getting your hands on the textbook rather difficult at exam time. Before relying on this method, find out your library's policy for checking out textbooks. If they're allowed to be taken out of the library, forget about it. On the other hand, if the book can only be checked out for a couple of hours at a time, you have a better chance of getting it when you need it.

You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks each semester. Plenty of options are available for cash-strapped students if you just know where to look. 


1 October 2014

Budgeting For Real Life

As I see it, one problem with most budgeting programs is that they don't account for the "real life" factor. Anyone can tell you not to spend anything and to save everything, but when it comes to feeding your kids or dealing with a medical emergency, most budgets get thrown out the window. I realized that this was a problem, so I decided to start focusing on budgeting for real life. I decided to forget everything that I knew about budgeting and started working with a clean slate. This blog is all about budgeting for real life and knowing how to spend your money the smart way.